There has been an increase in domestic abuse episodes directly related to the coronavirus epidemic, according to a police leader.
Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor of Greater Manchester for police and crime activities, said there had been reports of abuse related to the blockade and that the authorities were preparing for serious incidents.
After a meeting of the region’s Covid-19 emergency committee, Lady Hughes said, “I think we are starting to see an increase in domestic abuse incidents. We anticipated that this could happen in very stressful circumstances for many families.”
Charities and police forces across the country have warned of a potential increase in cases of domestic violence. In China there was a threefold increase in cases reported to police stations in February compared to the previous year.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told the Commons Justice Committee this week that there could be more cases of domestic abuse, online crime and fraud during the blockade.
Hughes later claimed that the general level of domestic abuse cases was as expected, but officers had begun to classify incidents believed to be related to the virus.
He said families were asked to stay home and many had far less money because of the restrictions.
Hughes said, “The potential to build tension in the home as a result of what we are asking people to cope with in order to suppress the virus will increase and therefore we would be right to think that this could manifest itself in an increase in the number of domestic accidents to which we are called.
“We are preparing for this. Some of those more serious incidents will be difficult to deal with, particularly if the victim is to be transferred to a shelter, but the police specialize in this type of case and local partners, local authorities, are working closely together to prepare for this. . “
Avon and Somerset police have reported a 20.9% increase in domestic abuse incidents in the past two weeks, from 718 to 868. The police in Cumbria asked postmen and couriers to look for signs of abuse.
DCI Dan St Quintin, of the Cumbria police, said: “In the coming weeks and months, we are asking everyone to look for each other as much as possible. We would also like to extend this reason to those such as post office clerks, delivery drivers, food delivery companies and caregivers who will continue to visit homes, to keep an eye on any signs of abuse and report any concerns. “
Quintin said that the Bright Sky app, which can be disguised by people concerned about the partners who control their phones, has provided support and information to the victims.
The National Center for Domestic Violence said it fully supported the request and warned “enormous dangers lurking for the victims”.
Its chief executive, Mark Groves, said: “While the whole country is grappling with the aftermath of Covid-19, there are huge dangers lurking for victims of domestic abuse and violence. We fully support the Cumbria police request to key workers to help police investigate suspects or concerns surrounding the victims or perpetrators. “
Thames Valley chief agent John Campbell said his strength should see an increase in the number of domestic abuse calls. He said domestic violence and fraud will become a priority for his strength as “criminals decide to change their behavior” to take advantage of coronavirus “.
“We are seeing and closely monitoring domestic abuse issues, we predict that it could increase and we will deal with it as robustly as would be expected of us,” said Campbell.
Shanika Varga, a Stowe Family Law attorney specializing in domestic abuse cases, said: “Being stuck in a house together for two weeks or more means that the risk of a situation becoming violent is much higher. Many people – whether they realize it or not – have abusive relationships and abusers generally manipulate any situation to take advantage of their perceived position of power. “
Varga called on the victims to start thinking about an emergency plan to escape their abusers. “Knowing your options and making sure people are informed and fully prepared to act when needed is vital. Don’t forget that help is out there, “he said.